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Water Valley set to host Eupora in season opener

Preseason is over and the dress rehearsal is complete. The opening week of high school football is here and Water Valley is ready to pick up where 2017 ended.

The Blue Devils host Eupora in both team’s season opener at Blue Devil Stadium on Friday at 7 p.m. (105.5 FM).

“We’ve had a good off season and fall camp,” Water Valley head coach Brad Embry said. “I want to play great but I also want to make sure we’re doing things the right way. Make sure we’re building depth as we go for the long haul of the season.”

In the first live action against someone other than themselves, Embry took the opportunity to rotate as many guys as possible into their jamboree game at Ripley last Friday. The decision saw potential starters not to see as much action but it allowed the Blue Devils to sort out their depth chart entering the first week, Embry said.

“It was a hard-fought defensive battle,” Embry said of the jamboree. “We were looking for some backups in certain spots and there was some spots that were up in the air as far as starters and so forth. Practice is one thing but with live bullets, they need that and we need that as coaches to be able to make sure we’re able to make the right decisions. That solved it and we know what we want to do Friday night.”

Embry is going to take that method and apply it at the start of each week during the season, with the potential to see someone starting in a spot they may not have been in the week prior.

Eupora returned as a regular opponent on the Blue Devils’ schedule in 2015, which was the first time the schools played each other since 2008 when they were Region 2-2A foes. The Blue Devils moved up to Class 3A in 2009.

The Eagles, who defeated Water Valley 42-27 in last season’s opener, are coming off a 35-6 win over J.Z. George in their jamboree game last Friday.

“We’ve got film on Eupora but they played a scrimmage, too,” Embry said. “I’m sure they did a lot of what we did, played a lot of people and so forth. It’s the same for both teams. They’re a very good football team. It’s what we need to do. We need to go play a good football team.”

Eupora is without Tanner Knight at quarterback. With Knight’s graduation, the Eagles lose 1,774 yards of offense without Knight under center. Backup quarterback Al Dumas also graduated.

What Eupora does return is their leading rusher. In 2017 Edwin Herard ran for 516 yards and five touchdowns on 98 carries. Preston Perkins returns as a senior running back, as well.

The duo combined for 74 yards and one touchdown against Water Valley last year.